Evaluation of the Indoor Air Quality Procedure for Use in Retail Buildings

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California's building efficiency standards (Title 24) mandate minimum prescribed ventilation rates (VRs) for commercial buildings. Title 24 standards currently include a prescriptive procedure similar to ASHRAE's prescriptive "ventilation rate procedure", but does not include an alternative procedure, akin to ASHRAE's non-prescriptive "indoor air quality procedure" (IAQP). The IAQP determines minimum VRs based on objectively and subjectively evaluated indoor air quality (IAQ). The first primary goal of this study was to determine, in a set of California retail stores, the adequacy of Title 24 VRs and observed current measured VRs in providing the level of IAQ specified through an IAQP process, The second primary goal was to evaluate whether several VRs implemented experimentally in a big box store would achieve adequate IAQ, assessed objectively and subjectively.

For the first goal, a list of contaminants of concern (CoCs) and reference exposure levels (RELs) were selected for evaluating IAQ. Ventilation rates and indoor and outdoor CoC concentrations were measured in 13 stores, including one "big box" store. Mass balance models were employed to calculate indoor contaminant source strengths for CoCs in each store. Using these source strengths and typical outdoor air contaminant concentrations, mass balance models were again used to calculate for each store the "IAQP" VR that would maintain indoor CoC concentrations below selected RELs. These IAQP VRs were compared to the observed VRs and to the Title 24-prescribed VRs.

For the second goal, a VR intervention study was performed in the big box store to determine how objectively assessed indoor contaminant levels and subjectively assessed IAQ varied with VR. The three intervention study VRs included an approximation of the store's current VR [0.24 air changes per hour (ACH)], the Title 24-prescribed VR [0.69 ACH], and the calculated IAQP-based VR [1.51 ACH]).

Calculations of IAQP-based VRs showed that for the big box store and 11 of the 12 other stores, neither current measured VRs nor the Title 24-prescribed VRs would be sufficient to maintain indoor concentrations of all CoCs below RELs. In the intervention study, with the IAQP-based VR applied in the big box store, all CoCs were controlled below RELs (within margins of error). Also, at all three VRs in this store, the percentage of subjects reporting acceptable air quality exceeded an 80% criterion of acceptability.

The IAQP allows consideration of outdoor air ventilation as just one of several possible tools for achieving adequate IAQ. In two of the 13 surveyed buildings, applying the IAQP to allow lower VRs could have saved energy whilst still maintaining acceptable indoor air quality. In the remaining 11 buildings, saving energy through lower VRs would require combination with other strategies, either reducing indoor sources of CoCs such as formaldehyde, or use of gas phase air cleaning technologies. Based on the findings from applying the IAQP calculations to retail stores and the IAQP-based intervention study, recommendations are made regarding the potential introduction of a comparable procedure in Title 24.

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